Winds from the Southwest Today

Susan G Holland
4 min readJun 13, 2024

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Draft: copyright SGHolland, Oct 20 2019, Las Vegas NM

Russian Olive twig found on a windy day

There’s a red alert in our weather forecast today, warning of stiff southwesterly winds up to 50 miles per hour, to last pretty much all day until evening. The most horrible thing these winds can do is to bring fires across the prairie. The next most horrible is a power out.

But I’m told that this is a sort of normal behavior of wild winds in this part of northeast New Mexico.

Rippled dish from Journey Bowls Series carved by SGHolland

The carved bowl pictured here has been “becoming” slowly in my art studio. The strong ripples across the inside of the bowl speak to the errant gale-force gusts that tear leaves off my favorite trees, the Russian Olives.

In my wee studio at the farmhouse’s southwest corner I have windows out every side of the structure and I am keeping an eye on acres of short-grass prairie in all four directions — prairie severely ruffled, but recently mowed. It is the junipers that are most easily ignited by sparks. Junipers are an alien species but they’ve been brought in by humans at some time, and thrive in these acres and acres of valleys and mesas.

Ranchers try to “manage” the persistent evergreens by
mowing them down, or digging them out. Some ranchers ignore them. Most of the acres in this part of the US are wild acres of the Great Plains, and no one could begin to “manage“the rugged Junipers sprinkled all over the endless foothills, and arroyos and mesas. They are no good for anything having to do with crops or livestock. And they give humans allergies. Oh yes they do provide dandy firewood. And they may keep the clay from becoming a dust storm.

Junipers very combustible. Fires love them.

So I am sitting here wondering what I might have to do if some odd spark sets off a fire around these acres. Let the horses out to run for their lives, and go out to the country roadway a quarter mile from the door of this wood house and hope for a ride, or even more exciting jump into a cool stock pond and ride out the fire. Those are my orders, just in case.

Actually I am not shaking in my boots. There will be plenty of that IF a fire comes. I am fascinated with the behavior of nature in it’s extremes. Thunderstorms are marvelous, but lightning is deadly enough to strike my uncle on a golf course in South America and kill him.

We all are riding on the precarious edge of danger, even when we look at the GPS map in our cars while driving! Like the unwitting culprit who planted a Juniper in Northeast New Mexico one sunny day hundreds of years ago, we know not what we DO!

Whether it’s the proven possibility of wildfires or death by lightning, or even the matters of national safety we dread, we are living on the brittle cusp of all kinds of danger.

For me, I want to see what’s happening. The wonder of a waterbug on a still pond is what I love to watch. But I saw 9/11 from a New Jersey place close enough to ground zero that I saw the smoke, and the sky void of any contrails or airplane sounds. I had seventy paintings being flown into Newark Airport at the time of 9/11. All flights were diverted to Canada. My art landed JUST BEFORE the horror began!

“It’s a whole different world, lady,” said the policeman who surprised me in the grand hall I was unloading the boxes of art in, a week later.

He had his revolver out, and was on high alert because my rental car was not registered by the campus security, and it had a New York license plate. He had me put my hands up so he could inspect the boxes of paintings.

Aging has educated me, finally, to realize that anything can happen any time. It is not helpful to live in dread, I have found. Have a look at all the windstorms and the craft on a stormy sea! Should we be afraid to move?

No. I think we can, instead, watch, in awe at what is happening, and pay close attention to the wonder of it. And decide to look it straight in the eye and remember all the mercifully safe days we have had in our lives so far.

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Susan G Holland

Student of life; curious always. Tyler School of Fine Art, and a couple of years’ worth of computer coding and design, plus 87 years of discovery.